Why The Left Must Criticize Linda Sarsour

Why The Left Must Criticize Linda Sarsour

Recent statements by Sarsour have shown she shouldn't be hailed as a progressive hero.
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Linda Sarsour has become a popular name in progressive politics as of late, as she was one of the co-founders and organizers behind the Women's March, undoubtedly one of the most important protests in recent American memory. While this is a worthy cause to support, some of Sarsour's recent statements should cause us to step back before we idolize her as a progressive figure. She has taken inflammatory positions regarding critiques of Islam, as well as attacking journalists for pointing out offensive and inconsistent tweets. I'm not here to demonize her as a person or mis-characterize her views, but I do think fellow liberals need to let down their knee-jerk defense and evaluate her behavior rationally.

2017 has been a year of political ups, downs, conflicts, protests, and scandals. One of the most prominent moments occurred just after the inauguration of President Trump. The day after the inauguration, millions across the US took to the streets to protest the President’s remarks towards women as well as what they stated were anti-women policies; this mass gathering was organized as the Women’s March. The model of the Women’s March became the template upon which most of the future protests in the Trump era, like the travel ban protests and the Science March. One of the co-founders and organizers of this event was Linda Sarsour, and the ground-breaking protest propelled her onto the national stage.

She was quickly embraced by many figures on the left, including Bernie Sanders. She championed many anti-Trump causes while also speaking out on her most passionate issue, the Palestinian people. Many on the left regard her as a champion of feminism and progressive issues, but as with many other figures who have come to national prominence; being on the national stage comes with national scrutiny.

This all came to a head last week when the Women’s March Twitter account posted a tweet honoring the birthday of Assata Shakur. Shakur, for those who don’t know, was convicted in 1977 as an accomplice in the murder. of New Jersey State Patrol Officer Werner Foerster. Foester had pulled over Shakur, who was in the car with a few others, on the New Jersey Turnpike; this quickly ended in an exchange of gunfire where Foerster was killed. Shakur and the trooper accompanying Foerster were injured. New Jersey law stated that an accomplice to a murder can be tried and convicted with an equal charge and sentence to the actual killers themselves, and Shakur was subsequently sentenced to life in prison. In 1984, however, she escaped and fled to Cuba where she was given asylum. She remains on the FBI’s most wanted list.

Clearly the fact that the Women’s March account would choose to honor this person was shocking, and many people, including journalists like Jake Tapper and Joe Scarborough called the account out for it. Even people who ardently supported the Women’s March seemed dismayed that this movement would choose to honor a convicted cop-killer.

But the Women’s March account doubled-down and, while tepidly saying that they didn’t agree with her “tactics”, they went on to praise her for her anti-racism work, which is absurd; the reason people know her name is because of the crime she committed. Sarsour, on her personal account, went a step further and accused Jake Tapper of joining the alt-right in mocking her. Anyone who’s ever watched Tapper knows that this is a nonsensical accusation.

And this isn’t the first time she’s made inflammatory statements. In reference to Ayaan Hirsi Al (and Brigitte Gabriel), an ex-Muslim who grew up in Somalia and regularly speaks on the violent aspects of Islamic fundamentalism, Sarsour wished she could “take their vaginas away” (referring also to Brigitte Gabriel); which is a stunning thing to say given that Ali had suffered female genital mutilation in her home country.

While her opinions on Israel and the Palestinian conflict are controversial, I will leave those off since there are legitimate disagreements on both sides. But just by these statements alone, I believe fellow liberals should rethink their support for her or at least demand that she apologize for and retract her statements.

Look, we need figures in America who serve as positive symbols for Muslim-Americans, especially in light of some of President Trump's harsh policies. In fairness to Sarsour, she has certainly given a voice to many Muslims and other groups across America, thanks to the Women's March. But blindly defending her comments as a knee-jerk reaction against conservatives despite some of her statements is extremely damaging to the progressive cause. And given the dire straits we are in with the Trump administration, we absolutely cannot afford that.

Cover Image Credit: Glamour

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A Senior's Last Week Of High School

The bittersweet end.
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Well, this is it. This is what we've worked so hard the last four years - who am I kidding - basically what seems like our whole lives for. This is the very last week we will set foot as a student in our high school's hallways. As most schools are getting ready to set their seniors free at last, it all begins to set in - the excitement, the anxiousness, and also the sentiment and nostalgia.

For seniors, the years since our first day as a freshman at the bottom of the high school totem pole have seemed endless, but as we look back on these last few weeks, we realize that this year in particular has gone by extraordinarily fast. It was just yesterday that we were sitting in our classrooms for the very first time, going to our 'last first' practice, and getting our first taste of the (very real) "senioritis". With all that's going on in our lives right now, from sports and clubs, finals, and the sought after graduation ceremony, it's hard to really sit down and think about how our lives are all about to become drastically different. For some it's moving out, and for some it's just the thought of not seeing your best friend on the way to fourth period English; either way, the feels are real. We are all in a tug of war with the emotions going on inside of us; everything is changing - we're ready, but we're not.

THE GOOD. Our lives are about to begin! There is a constant whirlwind of excitement. Senior awards, getting out of school early, parties, and of course Graduation. We are about to be thrust into a world of all new things and new people. Calling our own shots and having the freedom we have so desperately desired since the teenage years began is right around the corner. Maybe the best part is being able to use these new things surrounding you to grow and open your mind and even your heart to ideas you never could before. We get the chance to sink or swim, become our own person, and really begin to find ourselves.

Things we don't even know yet are in the works with new people we haven't even met yet. These friendships we find will be the ones to last us a lifetime. The adventures we experience will transform into the advice we tell our own children and will become the old tales we pass down to our grandkids when they come to visit on the weekends. We will probably hate the all night study sessions, the intensity of finals week, and the overpowering stress and panic of school in general, just like we did in high school... But it will all be worth it for the memories we make that will outlive the stress of that paper due in that class you absolutely hate. As we leave high school, remember what all the parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors are telling you - this are the best times of our lives!

THE BAD. The sentimental emotions are setting in. We're crying, siblings are tearing up, and parents are full-out bawling. On that first day, we never expected the school year to speed by the way it did. Suddenly everything is coming to an end. Our favorite teachers aren't going to be down the hall anymore, our best friends probably won't share a class with us, we won't be coming home to eat dinner with our families...

We all said we wanted to get out of this place, we couldn't wait, we were ready to be on our own; we all said we wouldn't be "so emotional" when the time came, but yet here we are, wishing we could play one more football game with our team or taking the time to make sure we remember the class we liked the most or the person that has made us laugh even when we were so stressed we could cry these past few years. Take the time to hug your parents these last few months. Memorize the facial expressions of your little sister or brother. Remember the sound of your dad coming home from work. These little things we take for granted every day will soon just be the things we tell our college roommate when they ask about where we're from. As much as we've wanted to get out of our house and our school, we never thought it would break our heart as much as it did. We are all beginning to realize that everything we have is about to be gone.

Growing up is scary, but it can also be fun. As we take the last few steps in the hallways of our school, take it all in. Remember, it's okay to be happy; it's okay to be totally excited. But also remember it's okay to be sad. It's okay to be sentimental. It's okay to be scared, too. It's okay to feel all these confusing emotions that we are feeling. The best thing about the bittersweet end to our high school years is that we are finally slowing down our busy lives enough to remember the happy memories.

Try not to get annoyed when your mom starts showing your baby pictures to everyone she sees, or when your dad starts getting aggravated when you talk about moving out and into your new dorm. They're coping with the same emotions we are. Walk through the halls remembering the classes you loved and the classes you hated. Think of the all great times that have happened in our high school years and the friends that have been made that will never be forgotten. We all say we hated school, but we really didn't. Everything is about to change; that's a happy thing, and a sad thing. We all just have to embrace it! We're ready, but we're not...

Cover Image Credit: Facebook

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When Words Are Not Enough

Sometimes you just need to be.

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Life is a roller-coaster of ups and downs. We all desire easy fruitful lives where no one ever dies and no one ever leaves. Instead, we suffer through hardships and great trials that test our faith. These conflicts often leave us worn down and feeling helpless. This is the time when words become a languid breeze, going through one ear and out the other. This is what you should do when words are not enough to satiate the pain you hold in trembling hands.

Focus all your energy into just being. No one expects you to get over the tragedy that occurred in your life, so don't force yourself. Just eat, breathe, and sleep until you feel up to doing normal tasks. Whatever circumstance that has stolen your breath and turned your life upside down won't go a week in a couple of days or a week. Wounds like yours don't go away instantly; instead, they take time and nurturing. Sometimes it's best to keep a sore covered but in some circumstances, know that seeing someone is okay.

These tragedies you face are real, and they try to break down the very substances that make you who you are. Counselors and therapists can help you make sense of the burden you carry. There are many reasons why you might be hesitant to see a therapist, but if the burden you carry becomes too much, a therapist can help you lighten that load.

Know that what you are going through is real and it is tough, but you will make it out on top. You are a survivor and a success story. Every single bad thing that has tried to tear you down hasn't succeeded, and this will be no different. Trust me, your story is not over.

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